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College Repub­licans hosted Sen. Shirkey last week. MATT FISHER | COURTESY

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R‑Clarklake) blasted Michigan Democrats at an event hosted by the Hillsdale College Repub­licans, describing Demo­c­ratic members of the leg­is­lature and Gov­ernor Gretchen Whitmer as “on the bat-sh*t crazy spectrum.”

To begin, Shirkey dis­cussed his career as a small business owner prior to serving in the state leg­is­lature. To this day, he con­tinues his work in the private sector while also serving his con­stituents back home. 

“I was too old for Vietnam and too young for every­thing else,” Shirkey said. “So I had to find some other way to serve. That is not to compare my career with the enormous sac­ri­fices of our ser­vicemen and women, but we all have an oblig­ation to do our part to con­tinue this exper­i­men­tation of self-gov­er­nance. And if not, shame on us.” 

Shirkey then switched gears and dis­cussed Michigan pol­itics. In par­ticular, he explained the con­tinuing battle between the Repub­lican-con­trolled leg­is­lature and Demo­c­ratic Michigan Gov. Whitmer. The source of the con­flict, Shirkey argued, came from a dis­agreement over how to tackle infra­structure reform and the budget appropriations. 

“I pleaded with her not to tie road funding to the overall budget,” Shirkey said. 

He argued that both should have been addressed individually. 

In time, Gov. Whitmer even­tually agreed to sep­arate the two. But as Shirkey put it, “this left us with no options,” as only two weeks stood between Michigan and a budget shutdown. 

Shirkey admitted that, due to time con­straints, the leg­is­lature could not involve Gov. Whitmer in the process of budget allo­ca­tions. But he went on to ridicule Gov. Whitmer for taking the line-item veto pen to numerous pro­vi­sions and turning to a 98-year-old law to satisfy her desire for more infra­structure funding. 

“She exer­cised her veto pen and did an unprece­dented number of 147 line-item vetoes,” Shirkey explained. “In response to the passage of the budget, she tapped into a very obscure 1921 law that gave the gov­ernor the power to transfer money within budgets.” 

He con­cluded his remarks con­cerning the budget fight by deeming Gov. Whitmer’s actions as “rash political mis­be­havior” and warned that many in his caucus were fed up with attempts to strike a bipar­tisan tone. When asked whether or not he felt pressure from Repub­lican col­leagues to tow a hardline against Gov. Whitmer, Shirkey acknowl­edged patience is wearing thin within the Repub­lican Party. 

“The pressure is building and it will con­tinue to increase and it will affect people dif­fer­ently,” Shirkey stated. “My gov­ernor has the two Demo­c­ratic cau­cuses fairly locked up. They sit around and wait for her to call them and tell them to do this or do that.” 

Aside from the Michigan leg­is­lature, Shirkey also devoted time to answer ques­tions con­cerning national pol­itics. When asked his thoughts on the impeachment hearings in the United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Shirkey defended Pres­ident Donald Trump and cri­tiqued House Democrats for their han­dling of the situation.

“We are going through ‘kabuki’ theater on impeachment,” Shirkey said. “It hurts my heart to see our pres­ident under attack, but it also hurts my heart to see our insti­tu­tions under attack.”

Reaction to Shirkey’s speech was positive.

“I think it’s great to have the Senate majority leader because as aspiring statesman, we need to balance the con­cerns of indi­viduals with the con­cerns of lead­ership,” said Sec­retary of College Repub­licans Brandt Siegfried.